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Many in the US are facing difficult questions about whether and how to reopen schools with students back in their classrooms. In this context @jenkatesdc and I look at what we know (and what remains to be understood) about children and COVID-19…
Something that’s been clear all along is children have milder disease compared to adults. In the US children comprise 22% of the population but only 1% of hospitalizations and <1% of deaths from COVID-19 to date. Still, a small subset of children affected can become severely ill
Evidence is also clear that children are at risk of being infected and can transmit the virus to others – though the magnitude of the transmission risks in children is still not completely understood and more information needed.
Compared to adults, children appear somewhat less likely to be infected when exposed to the virus though there is evidence of an age gradient: children <10 at less risk of infection and older children at similar levels of risk as adults.
We also look at the evidence around outbreaks in countries that re-opened schools. Many countries reported no evidence of increased transmission after re-opening, though some countries did see sizeable school-centered outbreaks.
Even so, the US is in a different league when it comes to the level of existing community transmission compared to countries that re-opened schools. We looked at key indicators at the time some countries re-opened compared to current indicators in the US
The evidence indicates "where there is already widespread community transmission...there is clearly a risk of further spread associated with reopening schools. The risks of reopening need to be considered carefully in light of the recognized benefits of in-person education.”
This work is complementary to other recent @kff releases, including poll findings on Americans’ views on re-opening schools, where we found most parents with kids in school (60%) say it is better to open schools later to minimize infection risk…
Our polling also found parents of color are more concerned about the risks of school openings compared to white parents…
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